Eli Klein Fine Art is pleased to announce the first solo exhibit in New York for the highly regarded Chinese artist Liu Bolin, whose art has been exhibited extensively within China, France, Italy, the United States and Korea. Liu Bolin’s work is well-represented in many highly significant and important collections. Born in Shandong province in 1973, Liu Bolin received his MFA at the Central Academy of Fine Arts and now lives and works in Beijing.
This exhibition, titled “China Report 2007,” includes ten paintings that represent a new series of work exploring contemporary China. Liu Bolin chose ten significant photographs from the two official news agencies with the largest circulation in China, “The People’s Daily” and “The Beijing News.” Under the current regulations in China, Xinhua, the official news agency, is the source of press releases and photographs which are distributed to all publications. This restriction on the media is about “maintaining unification with the centre” and ensures that the media acts to reflect the perspectives of the politicians. Liu Bolin took the photographs and transformed them into large photorealistic oil paintings. The photographs were simply images that he felt revealed a picture of China in 2007 based on the portrayals in the Chinese media. We can find in the images the most significant issues facing a China that is often standing between the past and the future within a chaotic environment that is constantly in the midst of deconstruction, construction and re-construction. We see the effects of extreme weather conditions causing flooding or unbearable heat, problems which are never adequately handled and often lead to colossal damage to unprotected people and infrastructures. We also see the attention paid to the good reputation and positive portrayal of the government and the military whose power and prestige is emphasized in these images. Beyond recording a historical synopsis of the year 2007, Liu Bolin also creates another layer of meaning through the appropriation of these images themselves. He uses his voice to transform the imagery by re-creating these images of real events that have already been edited, framed and approved by the official media. By magnifying the portrayals and painting them, the imagery moves further and further from the reality of the original events depicted. Perception can be manipulated by artists as well as journalists. Liu Bolin explores these ideas with this new series while capturing a sense of China today.
Liu Bolin comes from a post-Cultural Revolution generation that lives with the knowledge of history but whose lives have developed during a period of constant transition. During this unstable time, it is often hard to grasp any one identity or perspective. Liu Bolin has employed the tools of various media in order to express the experience of living in China today. He seeks to come to terms with this ephemeral China within his oeuvre that ranges from photographs of figures camouflaged within backgrounds including demolition sights, Tiananmen Square, sculptures of anonymous monochrome boys, or paintings of photographs of Communist slogans. Liu Bolin’s work is always subtly exploring the political and social situation in China. He does not directly state one viewpoint or another, but rather simply suggests ideas that are ultimately open for interpretation. Their meanings will evolve and grow with time as the China depicted in his work changes.